James Joyce’s British passport, issued 1924
Courtesy of the Poetry Collection of the University Libraries, University at Buffalo, the State University of New York
© The Estate of James Joyce.


In October 1904, James Joyce and his companion Nora Barnacle, they left Ireland on their epic journey to Europe. Joyce planned to make a living, teaching English. Finally they settled in the city of Trieste. During the time there, Joyce published his book of poems Chamber Music, he finished his book Dubliners, he wrote his autobiographical novel Stephen Hero, which he later redrafted as Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. And as the First World War began in 1914, he was writing his play Exiles and beginning work on Ulysses. Trieste was for him an exciting place. It was the main port of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. He took advantage of its rich cultural life and indeed he was joined by his brother Stanislaus, and we have from Stanislaus’ diaries evidence of their going to the opera every night or going to plays. Trieste was a small city, but unlike Dublin, it was multi ethnic, so to his fascination, he could hear many languages on the streets and as an English teacher, of course, he got to know a cross section of the city's inhabitants. He was passionately engaged, of course, with Ireland's fraught relationship with the British Empire and so, therefore, he understood the fierce arguments going on in Trieste then about the future of Italy, and the future of the Austro-Hungarian Empire.